By Gabrielle.

Happy Spring! I believe today is the official first day of the new season. I thought it would be fun to mark the moment by sharing a fitting Olive Us episode: Spring Flower Bouquet.

Every Spring in Normandy, the jonquils (miniature daffodils) would grow wild along the roads and hillsides. Our kids would collect fistfuls — even armfuls — and we would have bouquets all over the house. It was such a sunny, happy thing, and such a wonderful way to greet the new season. So this episode is all about collecting and sharing that happiness. I hope you enjoy it!

gathering daffodils

Tell me, Friends. Ignoring what the calendar says, has spring actually arrived at your house? Or is the snow still coming down? And do any wild flowers grow where you live?

P.S. — Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Olive Us has a really charming Instagram stream. You should totally subscribe!
- Find the official Olive Us website here, and subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter here.

- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.
- We’ve made 44 episodes so far and collaborated with ulive on 20 of them! You can find the Olive Us page on ulive here.

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red stools

Image and text by Gabrielle. This post is sponsored by the new app, Chairish. Buy, Sell, Adore.

Imagine a super cool tag sale that you can organize, set up and close out from your phone. A tag sale that only has really good stuff. That’s how I think of the app Chairish. I’m super into it! First, because it’s crazy easy to use — way faster than putting a listing on Craig’s List. Second, because as we continue to work on the treehouse, we keep needing to sell stuff — so Chairish is truly filling a need for me right this minute. And third, because I think the name is so clever!

The key that makes the app so great, is that the listings are curated. Meaning, users can’t list any old thing. No links to depressing furniture from moldy estate sale to sort through. Just high quality items that fit an up-to-date aesthetic. Another thing that makes it so great is the “make an offer” option. See something you love that’s out of budget? No problem. The listed price is just a suggestion. Click make an offer, and the seller can choose to accept it, decline it, or even counter the offer with their own!

To show you how easy the app is to use, I listed a set of 2 red stools for sale. If you’re local, you can pick them up today! They are the super popular, super sturdy Tolix-style stools in the perfect shade of red. They are bar height (30 inches) and have only been used for for a few months. I adore them! Alas, once we got them home, I could see they weren’t quite right for the space. A little too high. So they’ve been placeholders while I kept hunting. But new stools have been found (I’ll share them another day), and now it’s time to sell the red ones.

Chairish Screengrab 2

So, I quickly snapped a few photos with my phone and uploaded them to Chairish, with a short description and measurements too (that’s a screenshot of my listing above). Then, Chairish did the rest! For the lead photo, the team at Chairish whites out the background, so it looks like a clean, professional product shot. I think it makes browsing on Chairish so much more pleasant! Also, I find it’s a thousand times easier for me to form an objective opinion about an item when it’s not in front of a background.

Since Spring is on its way, I’m guessing many of you are also clearing out furnishings, and seeking new pieces to refresh your rooms. If so, I’d highly recommend giving Chairish a spin. Try it for selling, but don’t forget, it’s for buying as well! And there are some really good finds available — furniture, mirrors, throw pillows, artwork — with new items added every day. In fact, here are some of the items on Chairish that I’ve added to my possibilities list:

Chairish Product Collage Spring 2014

1) This Mid-century Cabinet with pretty details.
2) A super cool Orbit Chandelier.
3) I have no idea what I would do with them, but I think I need these brass Trojan Horse Heads. Or perhaps this Brass Dolphin.
4) Someone needs to grab this gorgeous Sewing Table.
5) The happiest sunny Yellow Dresser.
6) An Arc de Triomphe Painting I’ve fallen in love with.
7)  Teak Nesting Tables — I could use these in a dozen places.

Need even more temptation to give it a try? You got it. Go here to enter the Design Mom + Chairish Sweepstakes! You could win $250 to shop at Chairish!! The contest starts today, March 19th, and ends April 7th. I hope you win.

What do you think? Do you get a kick out of selling your stuff (my dad LOVED this sort of thing!), or maybe hunting down treasures? If you give Chairish a try, I hope you’ll let us know how it goes for you! And hey, if you need a pair of red stools, I’ve got a great lead for you. : ) Feel free to make an offer!

P.S. — If you’re reading this from your phone, here’s a link directly to the Chairish app that will work better for you.

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Policeman-Themed Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Paul Ferney, and a few by Gabrielle.

I’ve been thinking about birthday parties, and really, parties in general. We threw a themed party last month for our nephew, Roman, and it was delightful. I describe all the details below. The party came together really quickly, and having a theme made it feel like it was well-planned and organized and not last-minute at all. This was the first themed-birthday we’ve had since we moved back to the U.S.. In France, we did host a spa-themed-party for Maude once, but in general we adopted the local way of celebrating which was equally fun but less planned and definitely less themed.

Policeman Theme Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom Policeman Theme Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom Policeman Theme Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom Policeman Theme Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom

In France, we found that people would invite kids over for a birthday party, and that there would be simple party games and activities requiring little forethought — typically very low cost, like making leaf boats and floating them down the backyard stream, or playing Simon Says (Jaques a dit). There were simple decorations, maybe a little garland or a few balloons, but again, nothing really “themed”. Now this may have been because we lived in such a rural area. Perhaps in Paris, there are themed birthday galore, I really have no idea. But regardless, we truly enjoyed these simpler parties. They didn’t take much planning, you could put them together with what you had a home, and they were very low stress. In fact the only stressful part about them, was hosting in French when we weren’t very good at speaking. : )

Policeman Theme Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom Policeman Theme Birthday Party Ideas  |  Design Mom

Both Betty and June have birthdays coming up next month, so I’ve been thinking about how we might celebrate, and wondering if we might try one of those simpler French-style parties. Then again, I do get a kick out of putting together decked out party with a theme as well! I suppose I could go either way.

What are your thoughts? Do you have opinions about the current birthday culture in the U.S.? I know that parties can get over-the-top quickly, and that some families feel pressure to put on a lavish celebration with rented bounce houses, and invitations for a hundred people. Others feel like the party needs to be Pinterest-worthy with every detail planned down the cupcake toppers. And I know others reject the whole birthday party culture out right and instead keep it really simple with family-only get togethers. How do you do it at your house?

Also, if you’re curious, or have a child who’s craving a policeman-themed celebration, you can find out all the party details below.

Click for more photos and the party timeline.

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By Gabrielle.

More than a few of Laura’s photos sent for inclusion in her tour had the word sun in the name. Those three little letters made me like her so much. I guess people looking for the bright side have always been my favorites.

There’s so much sunshine in this tour, Friends. From the very first description of her kids to how she describes her home to her final answer about the way our children honestly see us, it’s all real and refreshing. (Neville sounds like a hoot!) Please enjoy it!

Q: Introduce us to your sweet family!

A: The seven of us are my husband Cylon, myself, and our five kids: Taye, Arri, Micah, Neville, and Imogen. I work part-time as a night nurse at a local hospital, and the rest of the time I am home, caring for and teaching our kids. My husband, Cylon, is a college chaplain and music minister. We met at the wedding of mutual friends and got married two months later, and have never looked back!

Taye, an active 11-year-old, enjoys cooking and is an old soul. Arrietty is seven. She likes to be in charge, and she has a rich, throaty voice. We often hear her singing Broadway-style about what’s going on in her life. Micah is five. She is kind and caring, and a willing helper. She has a great eye for color. Neville, our two and a half year old, has been a little out of sorts since the day he was born, but as he grows, his quirky sense of humor is coming out, and he is a gentle big brother to our youngest, Imogen, who will be a year old this April. She is an easy, happy baby who only complains under the most difficult circumstances.

More sun and wisdom, coming right up!

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It's a Mrs. Meyer's #GetMessyContest! Win a custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a party for up to 30 friends, led by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom.

By Gabrielle.

You Guys! I’m going to host a crafting party at your house! With up to 30 of your friends! For reals!

Here’s the story: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day is hosting a Get Messy Contest that encourages families to have fun getting messy together — then enjoy straightening up. And guess what the Grand Prize is? A custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a celebration for up to 30 friends, led by yours truly. (That’s me!)

Yes, indeed. Mrs. Meyer’s asked me to help host the party, and to come up with cool crafts the guests can make, and I responded instantly, “Yes, please!” So I’ll be at the party too! If you’re the Grand Prize Winner, I’ll be heading your way (by plane or by car, depending on where you live). I’ll come to your house, and I’ll lead the crafting, and I’ll chat up your guests, and I’ll Instagram the whole thing. Let’s take a selfie together at the party!

It's a Mrs. Meyer's #GetMessyContest! Win a custom-designed creativity center, fully stocked with arts & crafts supplies, PLUS a party for up to 30 friends, led by Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom.

Want to enter the contest? It’s a really fun one. Snap an image of a messy crafting situation at your house and upload it with the hashtag #GetMessyContest. Your friends and family can vote for your messy picture, and the top 10 finalists with the most votes will receive a Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Gift Bucket and will be entered for the grand prize. From there, the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day team (and me!) will come to the home of the Grand Prize Winner, install the custom creativity center and host a party!! You can find more details at GetMessyContest.com.

The last day to upload an image is March 28th, so you have just under two weeks left to enter. And I hope you do enter! Because I want to come to your home so we can get our crafting on.

I’m super excited about this contest, and happy as can be about working with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. I’ve been using their products for years. I was first drawn in by the vintage vibe of their labels, and kept coming back for the amazing aromatherapeutic scents (lemon verbena! geranium!) and because the products are really hardworking. Bonus, the products are earth-friendly too — biodegradable, made from naturally occurring ingredients, packaged in recyclable bottles, and never tested on animals — for example, their dryer sheets are compostable!

I’m excited to see your messy photos — I’ll be watching the #GetMessyContest photo gallery. I hope you win, because I’d love to meet you! : ) Okay. Now I’m dying to hear what you think of the contest. Are you going to enter? Do you have any crafty messes at your house to take pictures of?

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey Johnson of Café Johnsonia.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day today! Perhaps you’re cooking up a batch of Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage? Well, speaking of slow cooker meals, I have another recipe in my slow-cooker series to share today and it’s a classic: Clam Chowder!

Do you have a chowder-loving family? We seem to like every variation — potato chowder, corn chowder, and especially clam chowder. If we’re at a restaurant and clam chowder is on the menu, there’s a very high chance that I’ll order at least a cup of it. So it’s a no brainer that we would like to make it at home as well.

One new take on it now that we live in the Bay Area is serving it in sourdough bread bowls — it’s a San Francisco tradition! Since sourdough bread bowls are so easy to come by here, they’re a happy addition to our menu, but it’s certainly not a necessity. When we didn’t live here, we ate our clam chowder from bowls served with oyster crackers, crusty baguette, or even soda crackers on the side.

Slow Cooker Recipe: Clam Chowder. From scratch with whole ingredients.  |  Design Mom

Making clam chowder in the slow cooker takes a little longer, but allows the flavors to meld nicely — and there’s that bonus of prepping it in the morning and not having to think about it again till dinner. It’s super easy to put together. The only fancy ingredient is the clam juice, which isn’t 100% necessary, but adds more flavor. The bacon adds a little smokiness that goes well with the clams. Make sure to check out the notes below for variations and other tips for our very favorite clam chowder.

Also, I’m curious as can be: do you prefer Manhattan Clam Chowder (pink) or Boston Clam Chowder (white)?

Click for the recipe and tips!

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A Few Things

March 14, 2014

ferry building and fiat

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends. We made it through another week — and some of us did it with a time change! Good job, everyone. I think we all deserve a really good weekend. : ) Maude has a track meet on Saturday, but other than that, we’re keeping things low-key. I’m sure there will be errands as usual, some work on the house (an electrician is coming on Saturday morning), and I’m hoping we can explore a new restaurant or two.

Last Friday, for Ben Blair’s birthday we took a food tour of The Mission district of San Francisco with some friends. Our second stop on the tour was a Vietnamese market where we ate a couple of different kinds of Bahn Mi sandwiches. They were my first bahn mi and I can’t stop thinking about them. So dang good! All week, we’ve been asking friends and neighbors for bahn mi recommendations here in Oakland, so we have a source closer to home. I think we’ll scope out a few places this weekend and see if we can find a favorite. How about you? Any fun plans?

While I finish up my work for the week, here are a few things I’ve wanted to share with you:

- Legos for Good. Thanks, Yvonne.

- Genius! Ping pong ball café lights.

- Maude found this one: What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners.

- An art collection + 3 kidsThanks, Allysha.

- I’m not bossy. I’m the boss.

- How Anthropologie searches out cool products in Africa. Thanks, Jeannine.

- A cozy nursery in an unusually shaped room.

- I love the idea of making 3 specific spring goals.

- Happy Pi Day!

- Are public schools disappearing?

- Colin Powell’s selfie from 60 year’s ago.

- Tiny, adventurous Mini-Fig photographers. Love this! Thanks, Leah.

- St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday! I shared these last week, but I’m re-sharing in case you missed — 7 cute St. Patrick’s Day crafts for kids. Plus, 11 really good recipes for your St. Patrick’s Day dinner!

I hope you have a happy weekend. I’m wishing you wonderful weather. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

P.S. — The photo at top is from a mid-week date I had with my sisters, Jordan and Liz. One of the best things about our move to Oakland is getting to meet those two for lunch.

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Olive Juice Kids Giveaway

March 13, 2014

DMgiveawayBanner

By Gabrielle.

Oh goody! This is a giveaway from Olive Juice Kids for a $150 gift certificate. Which is perfect timing! Spring holidays are coming up and I’m betting your kids could use something fresh in their closet — for vacation, for Easter, for Passover — or simply for the warmer weather that comes with the changing season.

olive juice kids spring 2014

Olive Juice has been a fantastic sponsor of Design Mom for the past few years, so if you’ve been reading for awhile, you may be familiar with their classic, high quality pieces. Their designs are consistently beautiful, with attention to detail and style that will last. I simply love their clothes!

If you’re looking for something with a European feel, something that feels unusual, Olive Juice will have the perfect thing. Take a look at their LookBook for inspiration! Best of all, their clothes truly are made to be worn by kids — the cuts and materials are comfortable and realistic. Right now, I’m shopping for Easter clothes and I’m nuts for the Amelie Dress, the Sweater Dress, the Liberty Print Annie Dress, and the Dropwaist Dress. So many pretty options!

Visit Olive Juice Kids and leave a comment below to enter. I’d love to know what you’re shopping for these days — a family portrait? an event? or maybe your child’s wardrobe just needs some fresh pieces? The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——

Lara Schultz is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Lobbying

March 13, 2014

Washington Monument

Images and text by Gabrielle.

I’ve been meaning to write up a little post about what I was doing in Washington D.C. a week and a half ago. It was a short trip, but an exciting one! The first day was spent learning about initiatives and government programs that ONE.org is supporting — specifically, we learned a lot about the Electrify Africa bill.

The short story is that 70% of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have electricity. Here in the U.S., electricity is practically a human right — so it took me a minute for the reality of no electricity, and what that means for the people there, to sink in. No way to power a cell phone, a computer, the internet — and without those, it’s almost impossible for people to make economic progress and pull themselves out of poverty. No lights for students to take classes or study after sundown. Women giving birth in the dark without access to life-saving medical equipment. No electricity to power machines, so businesses can’t scale well. No feeling safe outside at night.

No electricity! It’s so hard to even imagine. I mean, even when I go camping I use electricity — at the very least for my phone and my lanterns and flashlights. One little tidbit we learned? The Dallas Cowboy’s stadium uses more electricity on game day than the entire country of Liberia uses on the same day. Insane!

But the problem is actually more stunning than that. In homes without electricity, kerosene is the fuel used for light at night. But. The fumes from the kerosene are so harmful that they are responsible for more deaths than AIDS/HIV and malaria combined!!! Just nuts, right?

That’s where the Electrify Africa bill comes is.

Click to read more and find out what it was like to lobby Nancy Pelosi!

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Coloring Books 2.0

March 12, 2014

Design Mom's 9 Favorite Modern Coloring Books. They're all super cool.

By Gabrielle.

I was doing a bit of organizing in the studio/home office last weekend and noticed we have accumulated quite the collection of really good coloring books and doodle books. Have you noticed how many awesome options are out there these days? It’s like a coloring book renaissance!

These are not the commercial character driven coloring books of my childhood, they’re created by artists and graphic designers and some of the very best publishing houses. They are really good looking! Some focus on patterns, others include prompts to spur imaginative drawing. And many of these books are designed to appeal to both children and adults. In fact, I’ve heard some people are using the mandala coloring books as a sort of soothing therapy! Coloring in the spaces seems to hit a sweet spot between mindless busy work and intense creativity.

Lately, one of our favorite go-to gifts is a coloring book paired with a new set of markers. Easy, fun, and it doesn’t break the bank. We also like to pull them out on slow afternoons for a quiet, calming activity. Taking some time to sit with my kids and color is delightful, and it provides a great space for casual, non-lecture conversation.

In case you’d like to get in on the coloring action, I’ve collected our very favorites here. If you have a favorite that’s not on this list, please feel free to share! We’re always on the lookout for new ones. And I’d love to hear if you ever get to color with your kids. Do they like to color? Do you?

1) Doodles. This one is by Taro Gomi and he has a ton of other great options as well! I think of Taro Gomi as the grandfather of all the good coloring books.

2) Zolocolor. There are several of these, all good.

3)  The Usborne Book of Drawing, Doodling and Coloring.

4)  Dragon, Robot, Gatorbunny.

5) Photoplay.

6)  Outside the Lines.

7) Doodle Cook. By French artist, Hervé Tullet. And if you like it, you could also try The Coloring Book and The Scribble Book.

8)  Pattern + Design.

9)  Rosie Flo’s Coloring Book — there are at least 6 versions of these.

P.S. — We also like to use these on flights and at church, when the kids need something quiet but entertaining.

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By Gabrielle. Baby Deer sculpture via Etsy.

Carly, like many moms, had it all planned out: an unmedicated birth, followed immediately with skin to skin contact and breastfeeding. It sounded lovely. But as we’ve all probably learned on far too many occasions, the best laid plans often go awry. Add in an unsupportive nurse, and even the most positive and excited woman among us might get a bit thrown off course. It happens.

But what Carly’s story reminds us is that it happens — yes, it happens — and then we go on, doing what we need to do for the ones who need us most, even if it’s a little later or a little differently than we had originally planned. That’s motherhood, isn’t it? Friends, I hope you enjoy Carly’s story about great expectations not coming true. (Spoiler alert: The actual ending, as it happened, is pretty great, too.) Welcome, Carly!

Before I get started, I have to tell you that this boy has the softest cheeks in the world. And he does this sleepy sunflower thing where he’ll move his head so that his face is always facing mine, no matter how I’m holding him. I’m telling you this because if you’re on the fence about having children, I don’t want you to read this birth story and decide that you’re better off with a goldfish. So when I get to the part where I thought I was actually going to not survive his delivery, remember the cheeks and the sunflower face thing.

The rest of the story, straight ahead.

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By Gabrielle.

Carla sent me the most stunning photos of her home, and I loved every single one. But then she wrote back right away and asked “Did I erase too much of my kids in those photos?” That was something she didn’t want to do, no matter how gorgeous the pictures. I assured her we would understand, especially since there are a lot of good ideas to take from this tour.

Like the large table just behind the couch, perfect for projects and so much more useful with kids than a simple sofa table, right? Or the floor-length tablecloth on the dining table; how many instant forts do you think Evelyn and Wren enjoy on a daily basis? Oh, and the master tub. Yes, I believe living with kids would be so much fun – especially at bath time – in a home like the Macklin’s. You’ll see, I hope! Friends, please enjoy the tour!

Q: Please tell us all about this pattern-perfect family!

A: Our family includes my husband, Craig, six-year old Evelyn, three-year old Wren, and Cali the mutt. Craig works for a thriving manufacturing company here in Cleveland selling vibrators of the industrial sort. He is an ever-faithful supporter of the Cleveland Browns and is dreaming of summertime when the golf course isn’t covered by deep snow. I’m continually amazed at his puzzle proficiency and his willingness to try the most unusual foods. I’ve known Craig since we were 15 and both competitive swimmers, a hobby both of us have happily dropped after too many years breathing chlorine.

Evelyn is absorbing every bit of information she can in Kindergarten and loves ice skating, swimming, and crafts. Wren is into puzzles like her dad and is begging for gymnastic lessons. The girls are usually great friends when they aren’t bickering over who is the kid in the make believe game they call “Kid.” Cali, the chocolate lab mix, is our neglected first-born, adopted immediately after leaving San Francisco eight years ago.

The tub and all the rest is just so, so pretty. Go see!

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Daylight Savings Time

March 10, 2014

laying VCT tile

By Gabrielle. Image of me snapped by Ben Blair.

I am up to my ears in floor glue! Which is a good thing! We started the floors in the boys room late last night (see above), and this morning I hope to finish things up. The glue is setting as I type. In fact, this is just a quick post, because as soon as it’s ready, I’ll need to start laying that tile!

Part of the reason we were working late into the night was the time switch. I swear, my body treats Daylight Savings Time like full-on jet lag. I couldn’t fall asleep. You too?

I’m always so curious about Daylight Savings Time. I can never quite understand who is benefitting from the time switch and why we do it at all. I’ve heard that it was originally instituted to help farmers, but I’ve never bothered to look up the history. One thing I do look up every once in awhile when the hour switches, is which time is considered “normal”. Meaning, if there was no Daylight Savings Time, what time would it be right now? Are we currently on regular time, or are we on altered time? I’ve learned this many times, but clearly, it hasn’t stuck with me.

Fun fact: France participates in Daylight Savings Time, but the country doesn’t make the switch at the same time as the U.S.. So, when we were living there, we were usually 6 hours ahead of the East Coast, but for a couple of weeks, it would be 5 hours.

From my point of view, it seems like the disadvantages (more accidents happen on Daylight Savings time change weeks because of over-tiredness, plus retraining my kids’ sleep habits twice a year is a downer at best) have surpassed the advantages. But I freely admit, I don’t actually understand what the advantages are supposed to be. I’m hoping someone reading is a big fan of the time change and can explain to me why it’s an important tradition and the positive impact it has.

What’s your experience? Do you have strong feelings about Daylight Savings Time? Or maybe you live somewhere that doesn’t participate (Hello, Arizona!)? If you have kids, how do they react? Have you figured out tricks to master the time change right away? I’d love to hear.

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A Few Things

March 7, 2014

colorful bunting

Image and text by Gabrielle.

Hello, Friends! How are you doing? Was it a good week for you? At our house it was one of our family’s birthday weeks — Maude’s birthday was on Tuesday, and Ben Blair’s birthday is today! This evening, we are celebrating by taking a foodie tour of The Mission district in the city. Should be really fun! My gift to Ben: taking care of the school prep routines this morning so that he could sleep in. : ) On Saturday, we’ll be running errands and hopefully making some progress in the long-stalled boy’s room renovation. How about you? Any weekend plans?

Friends, I want to tell you how impactful your comments on my Mental Health Update were. Each one was a reminder of how kind and supportive and smart and compassionate the members of this community are. For those of you in the middle of your own struggles (isn’t that everybody?), know that I’m thinking of you and wishing you health and peace. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words.

On a much lighter note, here are a few things I’ve been wanting to share with you:

- Bono’s rejection letter. Via Jesse.

- Woah. This new speed reading technology kind of blows my mind.

- Hey there musical lovers, here’s a trailer for a modern re-telling of Annie.

- A loonng article about the history of cool girls. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

- This memorial in Norway — I can’t stop thinking about it.

- A shared room for two little sisters.

- I’m floored by this article about fraternities. My university didn’t have fraternities so I’m unfamiliar with them. I confess, they’ve held a vague romantic mystery for me over the years, but now I’m quite disturbed. It’s a long article — you might want to bookmark it for later.

- I’m starting to think about sandals. I want something really simple like this — preferably picked up on a trip to Spain. : ) These are great too.

- Did you see this British Kevin Bacon ad?

- Oscar-winner Lupita Nuyong’o gave an incredible speech on beauty. Thanks Shannon.

- This looks cool: turn anything into a sippy cup.

- My Babble posts this week: St. Patrick’s Day crafts for kids — 7 cute ideas! Plus, 11 really good recipes for your St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

- Oh. And one more — simple ideas for celebrating Spring Equinox. (Can you believe Spring is really coming? Winter hit the U.S. hard this year.)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Monday. I miss you already.

kisses,
Gabrielle

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Ela & Glo Giveaway

March 6, 2014

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By Gabrielle.

I’m so pleased about today’s giveaway — it’s a chance to introduce you to a new-to-me shop called Ela & Glo! Ela & Glo offers a hand-picked selection of home decor items, beauty products, and gifts for both children and adults. The prize they’re offering is a super generous $200 store credit! So you have the freedom of picking whatever you like.

elaandglo spring 2014

Something really neat about Ela & Glo is that the business is run by a mother-daughter team, and the online shop has a brick-and-mortar version in Argentina. Isn’t that fantastic? Eliana and Gloria work together to find and sell products that their families truly enjoy. They offer stylish clothing, the sweetest baby gifts, charming accessories for the home, and so much more!

If I won, I would be tempted by the mini cupcake stands, these adorable ballet flats (only $22!), the handsome Stockholm tote, and something from Tokyo Milk (I love their scents!).

Visit Ela & Glo and leave a comment below to enter — I’d love to hear if this shop is new to you, too. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck!

——-

Jenny Also is the lucky winner. Thanks for playing!

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Image and text by Gabrielle.

Oh my! This episode of Olive Us, called How to Visit a French Market, makes me homesick for France like crazy. The market in our town took place at the base of the local cathedral, which made for a magnificent backdrop while we picked out our vegetables. But the coolest thing, is that the market had been taking place in that same spot, by that same cathedrals for centuries. Literally centuries!

Catherdral + Market in Argentan France

In fact, early on in our stay we stopped at a vide grenier (a town yard sale) and found this very old lithograph showing our very same cathedral with a market scene happening. Isn’t that the coolest? It’s one of my favorite souvenirs from our time in France. You can see more closeups of the print here and here. (Bonus: is was 2 euros.)

Related to shopping at the market, for months I’ve been working on a separate post about French food — what we missed, what habits we’ve continued since we got back — that sort of thing. I don’t know why it’s taking me so long to finish it up. I suppose it’s partly because I keep getting emotional when I work on it. : ) Anyway, shopping at the market featured in this video is definitely one of the things I miss. We went dozens and dozens of times and it never lost its charm.

I hope you enjoy the video! And I’d love to know: Do you have access to a good local market where you live? There are great ones here in Oakland and we love when we make time to go. And if you’ve been to France, did you get the chance to visit an outdoor market?

P.S. — Would you like to know more about Olive Us? Here you go:

- Olive Us has a really charming Instagram stream. You should totally subscribe!
- Find the official Olive Us website here, and subscribe to the Olive Us Newsletter here.

- Find all the posts I’ve written about Olive Us — including every episode — here.
- We’ve made 44 episodes so far and collaborated with ulive on 20 of them! You can find the Olive Us page on ulive here.

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Mental Health Update

March 5, 2014

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By Gabrielle. Photo of George H. Brimhall (see the P.S. for relevance).

A little warning, this post is really long. : )

On Valentine’s Day weekend we ended up throwing 3 parties. Maude had friends over on Friday night — a little “GALantine’s” gathering with a pretty dessert table and chick flicks. Then on Saturday night, Ralph went to “Mormon Prom” a formal dance for LDS high school kids in the Bay Area who are 16 years old or older. We made corsages for the girls, and after the dance, the kids came to our house to hang out and have rootbeer floats. Then on Sunday, we hosted a “Policeman Party” for our nephew’s 4th birthday. And since there was no school on Monday, we had a sleepover for 3 of the cousins. (Sometime, I need to tell you more about the policeman party. It was a cute one.)

At some point, I turned to Ben Blair and said, can you believe this? Two months ago it took everything in me to get a Christmas Tree, and this weekend we threw 3 parties and are ready for more! I’m doing so much better!

So this post is a mental health report. I’ve been very open over the past several months about the status of my brain, and I’ve received dozens of emails from readers wondering how I knew my head wasn’t working right, how I recognized when to go to the doctor, and how the medication was working. Obviously, everyone who has experienced a downturn in their mental health has their own story, but here’s mine, in case it helps.

Click here for the whole story.

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DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photography and assistance by Gina Vide of Willowday.

My girls have worn their hair long — shoulder length or longer — for years now. It wasn’t always so, and I’m sure it won’t always be so. But for now, like many families, we keep a generous stash of hair bands in our bathroom drawer ready to secure hair into ponytails, braids, and buns as needed. So when my friend Gina from Sweden sent me a photo of wooden bead hair ties she’d made, I had to get in on the action too! They work just like a standard rubberband — you put them on with a typical figure 8 twist, then adjust them so the beads are on top. The beads are such simple accent, but they add loads of charming personality!

Of course, they remind me of the hair bobbles of my childhood — with colorful plastic balls at the ends. But these are much gentler on your hair and more modern looking. Plus, you can make them in any color you like!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I think a small box with 3 or 4 of these would make such a sweet gift. You could create them in springtime colors and include them in an Easter basket. Or they would be wonderful to make a birthday party — a happy little activity that guests can make and use right away.

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

I’m just crazy about the contrast of the glittery band or colorful shiny elastic against raw wood. If you prefer a glossier look, you could paint the beads to match or compliment the elastics. The combinations are endless. These hair twists are easy to make; fun to make alone or with friends on a craft night!

DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom DIY Hair Twists with Wooden Beads   |   Design Mom

A special touch for the girls in your house — and for yourself as well. Let’s start making!

Click here for the full tutorial.

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By Gabrielle.

One of Rachel‘s mottos is “I’ve never met a color I didn’t love.” With one peek of her home, I know she’s not kidding. It’s a bright, cheerful space that makes me smile, and I know it must have the same effect on her family. And at the risk of getting too deep, I imagine it helps her stay positive when life doesn’t exactly go the way she’s been dreaming. Does your home do that, too? I hope it does.

There were a few times when I found myself pointing to something in her photos that I thought was super cute, only to find that it’s available in her shop! How wonderful and empowering it must be to live among your own art and makes. Friends, I’m so happy to introduce you to Rachel and her color-burst home!

Q: Please tell us all about your family.

A: There’s three humans and two canines in our little family. I’m Rachel Shingleton, and I’m a blogger/designer/shopkeeper at Pencil Shavings Studio. My husband is Simon, and he’s a realtor here in OKC. Our son Jude is a six year old kindergartener, and we like to say that he’s running for mayor of life. He’s never met a stranger, and is the absolute joy of our lives. And rounding out the craziness are two chihuahua puppies that we just added to the family back in October.

We’ve always lived in Oklahoma City (with a yearlong stint in California for me in college), and we grew up together in the same school starting in first grade. We didn’t start dating until our senior year of college at the University of Oklahoma.

More color to meet and love, coming up next!

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Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

By Gabrielle. Photos by Lindsey of Café Johnsonia.

Today, I’m delighted to share the second recipe in my Slow Cooker Series. This one is especially timed for March, and St. Patrick’s Day!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Or maybe you have some Irish ancestry? Or perhaps you just love Ireland — its people, culture, and food? Then this recipe is for you! But it’s not just for green-themed holidays. This menu is delicious any time of year you’re craving something hearty and warming.

As for the Blairs, we’ve heard our surname is English, Scottish, or Irish — maybe it’s all three! I know there is a Blair Tartan. In fact, when we were newlyweds, I wove Ben a sturdy wool scarf in the Blair Tartan pattern. I also know there is a Blair Castle in Scotland, so I mostly associate the name as Scottish.

That said, our kids feel much more connected to Ireland. Partly because in both New York and France they happened to make friends with Irish expat families, and partly because of our trip there. It was almost a year ago exactly — we arrived in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day! If you like, you can see images from our trip here.

How about you? Does your family feel any connection to Ireland?

Slow Cooker Corned Beef, Cabbage & Carrots. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom Slow Cooker Corned Beef & Cabbage. So good you will work this into your monthly rotation.   |   Design Mom

Now back to the menu. It’s a classic combo and it’s easy as can be, I promise! My recommendation? Make a big batch and have friends over for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner party, or work this into your monthly recipe rotation. You won’t be disappointed.

And now to the recipe: Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage

Click for the recipe and tips!

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